Almost bedtime. Philippe PetitPuffcheeks demonstrating the hot weather “airplane stance” to perfection. Ailerons out for cooling breezes.It’s possible I have an olive-sided flycatcher visiting (need positive ID). It’s a species at risk in NS, and it seemed to be shopping for snacks off the side of our house, possibly wasps. It was making repeat visits and swooping at the corner of the house.
Remember that “wild” rabbit? It did not quite allow me to get a picture, but it was taking a dirt bath, writhing around like a chicken, in the sand pile outside our door last evening. Very undignified.
Ursa Minor’s looking smug (it’s funny how they always look smug or proud when they get their chicks, but it is an achievement that cost endurance and attention). Four chicks! How exciting, she got all of hers.There’s one!There’s another one. These two new moms got transferred out of their broody kennels into boxes and chickeries today, so I could clean the kennels for the next tenants.Daisy finally got her suite upgrade.This one (tentatively “Wolverina” is still so fierce! She only has two chicks hatched, which isn’t good, but she’s sticking to her eggs. They were both model sitters, so the problem must be with the eggs. It’s sad when they don’t get all their chicks. Side by side chickeries.There’s a kennel vacancy (not for long I don’t think). That’s Sprout and Apples enjoying greenhouse privileges.
I’ve got three little broody Silkie hens, installed in the covered wagons in the greenhouse. Amazingly, they are all from the new set of chickens. Which is great, that means that they have learned how to chicken enough to go broody. Impressive.
All of them are sitting on full sized eggs that I gave them. Four each – I’m hoping for 100% germination, and the hens are petite. In the past I’ve always given a Silkie 5-6 big eggs, but they never all seem to hatch.
These girls are all excellent sitters. They sit very still, and they don’t let their eggs leak out. This little lady is patient enough to have endured the orphans spending a few nights with her in her kennel.This one is vicious. She’s so small, but she’s not afraid to peck. She´ll just hammer away at my hand like a woodpecker when I reach in for anything, like to change her hay. Food refills are tolerated. She’s always moving her eggs around or turning circles on them, arranging her nest to her satisfaction, but she doesn’t let any of them get away. The first two went broody at the same time, and are due very soon. This one went broody most recently, and is occupying a cardboard box in a chickery, waiting for a vacancy in a broody kennel suite. She hangs out all day with her beak over her water dish, so I know she’s staying hydrated in the heat.
What’s happening here? I know it might be hard to tell. That would be the notoriously mom-surfing chick, the yellow one, sitting on her mom. Not only that, mom is perching on the swing. With other chickens. The swing is swingy. I rarely see them use it at all.Obviously, she is far too large for mom-sitting at the best of times, but like one of those huge dogs that still thinks it’s a lap sized puppy, she doesn’t realize she’s outgrown it. And while perching on a swing might not be the best of times. Mom put up with it for awhile, too, but dumped her off when she’d had enough. Next, it will be chicken pyramids.
Almost bedtime. The mama hens got a box today, so that I can move them around soon. They got very excited. Did you know your mom was hatched in a box? They like boxes.
The chicks are all alive, even the little half size yellow chick, but there’s been no late hatchings. That’s a pretty poor hatch rate – 12 live chicks out of 23 eggs under two hens. The 13th was unlucky. But that is a dozen bright new little lives, which is wonderful. Maybe not all the eggs were fertile, or the late frosts we got made it too cold for them.
I’m coming in there
The other chicks are still in the chickery. Usually they start to break out, which lets me know it’s time for them to be at large, but so far, they are all staying inside, although they could fly right out.The little black “runt” of this clutch is catching up with the others.
And the oldest chicks, well: They decided to dust bathe at the bottom of the ramp, in the smallest dust bowl ever.
These two blip in and out of Silkieland at will, as do some of the other Silkies, since they can slip under the fence if they want.
For these chicks, the coop is the safe house, so they sprint up the ramp if there’s any strange noises or shadows or surprises. It’s funny.
Butterfly party by the GH door. There’s a bit of mud there, and it drew a butterfly crowd (why?) Mama hen and her chick duo slip in and out of Silkieland, but stick close by to it. They seem comfortable over there, rather than the far side of the greenhouse. All the chickens could come and go from Silkieland, it’s not a secure facility, but most stay. They’re a little too crowded for my taste but they show every sign of contentment, so – good enough for now. When I make the next one the space will be doubled.The little chicks are very precocious, handling the ramp from day 1, making their own decisions. They aren’t very needy, or whiny. They still stand on Mom once in a while.They all got caught out in the rain, though. “Caught” – being out in the rain was optional. Mom looks like a wet schnauzer, and the chicks look dipped, but they are unperturbed.The other hens all jog off when the rain starts, and hide under a tent. The last guinea spends all his time with the hens now that he’s alone. I’m disappointed to mysteriously lose those guineas. I had a nice, peaceful flock, and they roosted in the greenhouse every night. wth? Now have to start over. I’m thinking of getting keets and hoping this guy can bring them up. The males are active parents when the pair is intact; can they do it alone?
We got the pigs! Three little piglets. They are very pink, but they are supposed to be sired by a full black Berkshire. It seems they take after their mother.
We’ve finally sorted out our pig transport, after trying dog crates and the back of the car. That extra chickery I made came in, secured with a pallet, and covered with a piece of canvas (becoming as useful and ubiquitous around here as baling twine and wire), so the piglets don’t get a sunburn or heatstroke.
Our first piglets came in with sunburn and possibly heatstroke, but recovered. Although, after wrestling with them, sometimes you wish they had heatstroke.
We carried them from truck to pigland over the shoulder. “Easy”. HW gave me the small pig, and she was a crazy squealer, who screamed the whole trip, and absolutely pummeled my lower back stomping with her sharp little hooves. Wow. That hurt a lot.
HW had it worse though. He got peed on. Both of our pigs pooped en route, and then HW says “Oh no! Warm and wet – I think I’m getting peed on!” So I was better off with the stomping pig.
Then HW moved the third pig and immediately had them all run right through the fence, making us completely 0 for 4 on piglet retention. This time, the pigs were small enough to fit through the bottom squares of the electric fence, and they did. He got them back in though, and they fell to rooting like they were born to do it.
In the middle of the night, discussing the piglets pouring through the fence, I said “You know, the right thing to do is to take the other electric fence, with the smaller holes on the bottom, and wrap that around outside the fence already there, and do it tonight while they’re asleep. ” And he started getting out of bed! So we did that together at midnight, and the pigs are thoroughly trapped.
They weren’t asleep, but they were moving slow, watching us from the shadows. And they are SO happy! Face deep in the dirt, day one.
This morning, four new chicks!
All of them a bit damp, brown and black with black legs, and bright white egg teeth on their black beaks- SO cute. There are two from Cleopatra (copper maran Xs), and two from Cheeks or Puffcheeks (Ameracauna Xs). Proud mama!
The two “old” chicks have integrated into gen. pop. They integrated themselves, as they do.
Just before running out for pigs and doing a henyard check, I found one chick outside of the chickery. After fruitlessly chasing her around the box a few times, I tipped it up so she could slip back under a corner. She was looking. It almost worked. Then the other chick darted out, and then it was on. Those two started to run away from home together, mama flipped out, so I just let her out.
She was set upon by the roosters, and ran into the flock of hens, and the babies crouched in the grass (it only takes a couple of blades for them to disappear), but after the dust settled, they flew (flew like sparrows!) back to her, and that was that. Now they are part of the flock. They slept in the box last night, but this morning Mom was coaching them on how to use the coop ramp (although they were having none of it).
Moment of truth! The grand opening.I dropped the ramp and the birds on the threshold stared, taken aback. Oh, there’s the Colonel pushing his way through. Coming through, coming through. I’ll show you how it’s done.
And he did.
Then the birds started pouring right out.
The rapidity may have had something to do with the angle of descent. I wasn’t sure about the steepness of the ramp, if they could handle it, but it turns out, they handle it. They accelerate! – they’re running by the bottom third, but they can hop and fly the runout, so they all did just fine.What’s happening inside? Ah, there are a few that can’t figure out the corners. Where’d everyone go? Predictable.
So, everyone out with no drama, and…..! Ahhhhh, a big sigh of relief, as the sound of silence and peace settles over birdland. No one outcompeted or offended by the big birds. No rooster sneak attacks. It’s even better than I expected! If I could have done this any sooner, I would have. Everyone has all they can eat and plenty of time to do it, and they have three egg laying stalls all their own.
I felt like I was taking their freedom away, reluctant to put them back in a cage, even though I’ve long observed that A: Silkies only use a very small area, quite unlike the big hens B: They’re much safer confined, and C: Confinement for no more hunger or harassment is a good trade for them. They like to just hang out in a peaceful little pile.Later I added a sun shade.
But will they find their way back in at night? It’s not looking good.They all did! All of them, even the rooster I missed in the the night move and had to pop over the fence in the morning. Wow, what good chickens. The Colonel is such an amazing rooster. He waits until all the hens are in before he retires. Helping them if they need some demonstration. The other roosters are on their own though, even if they are youngsters.An egg! They love it. They love it:)
Another guinea down. This morning she was sitting in the greenhouse like she wasn’t ready to leave yet, and I looked at her twice, and had a feeling, from her posture. When she let me pick her up I knew it was bad. I tucked her in this corner, gave her food and water, which I’m sure she didn’t touch, and the other two stayed by her, doting. She just seemed to be breathing a bit hard. An hour later, gone. Such a pretty bird. The feathers around her neck are lilac coloured. If this is some weird bird illness going through the “flock” (2 of 4 in a week), then I’m going to be out of guineas just like that. That would be so strange, they spend all day out in the wild buffet, how could they be healthier? All hope rides on the remaining hen. In the chickery, the yellow chick is part duckling. She spends all her free time on Mom. Every couple minutes she’s jumping up there. Usually a chick barely stays up on Mom long enough to get a picture. Mom shrugs her off by bringing her head down low and tipping up her wings, so the chick falls off. It’s funny, obviously a deliberate dump off. That’s enough. It’s time for a grass recognition lesson.They are all bouncing around, and they have little wingtip feathers already, but I caught them back in the box hiding from the sun.Thinking about jumping up again. Very attentive students. Back up! It’s time for a little doze.It’s out of focus, but it’s just too cute!